The Holidays Are Coming - American Society of Employers - Sheila Hoover

The Holidays Are Coming

santa with help wanted signThe holidays are coming, yet Americans are quitting jobs at a record rate according to a recent Labor Department report.  “Quits jumped to 4.3 million in August, the highest on records dating back to December 2000, and up from 4 million in July.  That’s equivalent to nearly 3% of the workforce.  Hiring also slowed in August, the report showed, and the number of jobs available fell to 10.4 million, from a record high of 11.1 million the previous month.”

We all find ourselves asking, “Why are Americans quitting their jobs?”  I know, COVID.  COVID-19 cases surged in August which caused quits to soar in public facing jobs.  But what about the professional and business services positions?  Engineering, architecture, human resources, accounting, and others where employees can work from home.  We have found a significant difference in the reasons American’s are quitting.  Simply put, public facing workers are concerned about the risk of COVID, and professional remote workers are quitting due to the ability to receive higher pay in this candidates’ job market.

High quit rates are concerning for the holiday shopping season. Retail, hospitality, and shipping companies typically hire thousands of seasonal workers to keep up with the demand during the holiday season. But this year there are many reasons why workers are in short supply.  According to Fox2 News, “The delta variant has made people fearful of working in tight spaces with others, and most major employers that hire hourly workers haven’t mandated vaccines for them yet.”  Another wrinkle according to Fox2 News; “President Joe Biden’s announcement in September that employers with more than 100 workers will have to mandate vaccines or offer weekly testing.  It’s unclear when those rules will start or how that would affect hiring.  Companies that have already mandated vaccines have reported high rates of vaccinations.  And a full vaccinated workforce could make that employer more attractive to workers fearful of catching the virus.”  On the contrary, some companies who have mandated the vaccine have seen high quit rates among those American’s who are against vaccination.    

What does this all mean to companies and their employees?  It means less staff, longer hours, and tired employees. 

I traveled to Mackinac Island a couple weeks ago.  In conversation with the horse-drawn taxi driver, the island has had six taxi drivers for a 24/7 operation.  In a normal economy, they have 24 drivers.  He stated he works 12-hour days, 7 days a week.  “The horses get more breaks than I do!”   Our retail employees are experiencing a similar schedule.  Indeed reported, “searches by people looking for seasonal work were down 13% the week ending Oct. 10, compared to the same period a year ago.  And those searches were down 27% from 2019, before the pandemic began.”

Employers are having to be creative, and more giving, to hire workers for the holiday season.  Target is planning to give store workers an extra $2.00 per hour if they work weekends and other busy days during the holiday shopping season.  UPS is realizing they have to hire quickly.  They have implemented a tactic to hire in 30 minutes or less, so they don’t lose potential workers to competition.  The whole hiring process is now online.

Craig Rowley from the management consulting firm Korn Ferry says, “If employers can’t find the workers they need, online orders could take longer because there won't be enough people to pack orders or deliver them, especially as it gets closer to Christmas and more shoppers head online.  And stores are likely to do away with late night or overnight hours since retailers will want their existing staff to work when stores are busiest.”

So, what do we do?  As employers, we need to ensure our candidate experience and culture is exemplary in order to recruit and retain employees.  As consumers, we need to be patient and kind. 

Source: Fox2 News; Associated Press

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